Art reworked into street banners for Jazz Festival – Aldergrove Star

by Frank Bucholtz/special at Aldergrove Star

Last year’s exhibition is the dominant image of this year.

Banners and posters for the fifth annual Fort Langley Arts and Jazz Festival are already on the streets.

The story behind the publicity image for the event, created by Aldergrove-area artist Susan Falk, is fascinating.

In some ways, this reflects the change and upheaval of the past two years marked by COVID-19, and the palpable relief that in-person events are happening again.

It fits perfectly into the theme of the festival “Art and Soul”.

Falk said the painting she completed for last year’s event was almost never finished.

Executive Director Karen Zukas and Artistic Director Dave Quinn asked her to exhibit some of her work at a party in 2021.

Last year’s event was a mix of in-person and online performances, with COVID protocols imposing restrictions on attendance.

“I started with a five-by-six-foot canvas,” she said.

“I decided not only that it would be musicians, but that I would use the same color design, warm tones, acrylics, heavy brushwork, lots of animation, as I did for my painting of 15 foot horses in my studio.”

His studio is located on his 10 acre farm.

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However, a problem has arisen.

She had a collection of old instruments she could draw from, but not many with musicians.

She remembered that she had a little drawing of a blues festival from an old artist friend, Tony O’Regan.

“We have collaborated for many years with our teaching and some art exhibitions. So, with his blessing to draw some ideas from his sketches and a combination of me and my guitar mixed in with pictures, I swung into action. I blocked a few basic gesture shapes, and then another problem occurred. I lost interest,” Falk recounted.

“So I threw the big canvas in the back of my studio to be forever out of sight. Then the night before I was supposed to bring my canvases to the festival, I decided to put it back on the wall and have a another look. I picked up the big brushes of closing paint and finished at midnight. I’m glad I did – the painting got a lot of attention and it sold out the next day.

That wasn’t the end of the story, however.

“I received a call from Dave and Karen asking if they could use the image of the painting on posters and banners for this year’s festival. They said they couldn’t get it out of their minds. I said “perfect!” I had no problem with their design team cropping the image because most of my large paintings are designed with that in mind when determining the composition,” she said.

“That’s why I love cross-publicity, especially in our wonderful village of Fort Langley. I have collaborated with many local businesses, artists, poets and environmental activists over the years with my paintings.

Falk said the jazz festival “is a great place to cheer.”

The Jazz and Arts Festival honors both music and the visual arts. This year’s event promises to be the biggest ever, with 60 bands, 300 musicians, eight outdoor and indoor stages, visual arts and a Kidz Zone. Many other activities are planned.

Although some events are ticketed, there will be plenty of free performances throughout the four-day event, which runs Thursday through Sunday July 21-24.

Ticketed headlining events including a 1930s-themed opening gala, all-star blues and jazz concert series plus free shows on six outdoor stages.

Attendees can participate in a Mardi Gras Walk Parade and Art Mural Project and enjoy art exhibits, the Kidz Zone, Kwantlen and the Arts and Culture Zone, food trucks and street entertainment.

There will be something for every jazz fan, from blues, big band and the music of Frank Zappa and Steely Dan to award-winning jazz singers and musicians, jazz-funk fusion, Afro-Latin jazz Dominican and soul-gospel.

For more information and performance times, people can visit

Officially known as the Odlum Brown Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival, the event started on a small scale in 2018. This success led to a bigger event in 2019 and high hopes for 2020. Then the blockages of COVID-19 in 2020 meant it had to be a virtual-only festival, although interviews with participating musicians made it quite different and intimate.

Last year there was a mix of in-person and virtual get-togethers, and this year the event will be a bigger version of the 2019 edition – in-person and animated, transforming Fort Langley into a music mecca.

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Falk is looking forward to the event.

“I love all kinds of music, but my all-time favorite would be folk music. I love playing my old Washburn guitar that I’ve had for over 40 years and my Newfoundland dogs seem to like the ballads. They don’t leave the room.

Falk is represented locally by the Kube Gallery in Fort Langley and a solo exhibition of her work was shown there during June. The show featured figurative paintings inspired by COVID. The show received a lot of comments from the audience.

“Some weren’t impressed with the masks painted on my models. (It’s) always a risk when you’re painting the era you live in,” she said.

Falk plans to be on the streets of Fort Langley during the festival, painting en plein air (en plein air).


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